Birds of the World is the new home for Roberts 8 (Birds of Southern Africa) species content

BOW Team May 30, 2023
Roberts 8 species account: South African Shelduck

Newly revised Roberts 8 species account: South African Shelduck

Thanks to a unique publishing partnership with the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund (JVBBF), the entire “Roberts 8” revision project will be published online at Birds of the World.

For more than 80 years, Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, published by the JVBBF, has been the leading ornithological reference work for southern Africa. In 2005, the landmark 7th edition (Roberts 7) was published, but since then knowledge of the southern African avifauna has grown exponentially.

The JVBBF has partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on a multi-year effort to update species profiles of the Birds of Southern Africa (Roberts 8) and publish them on Birds of the World.

Short-clawed Lark Certhilauda chuana Tim Worfolk
Short-clawed Lark
(Certhilauda chuana)
© Birds of the World (illustrated by Tim Worfolk)

“Three local ornithologists have been appointed to manage the production of the Roberts 8 species accounts: Peter Ryan, David Allan, and myself,” said Derek Engelbrecht, an ornithologist with the University of Limpopo.  “We are actively recruiting authors willing to share their ornithological expertise in the new Roberts 8 edition.” All submitted material and species accounts undergo a rigorous review process by the renowned FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Cape Town, South Africa. Update 9/2023: Vincent Parker and Ben Smit have joined the editorial committee. David Allan has cycled off.

Birders can read now fresh accounts of southern Africa species such as South African Shelduck, Short-clawed Lark, Scaly Weaver, and Olive-headed Weaver. In all, more than 900 species accounts will be updated via this new partnership.

In a departure from previous editions, individual Roberts 8 species accounts will be published immediately upon completion, so the Roberts 8 content will build up in Birds of the World over time, and is available to JVBBF for other uses. Besides the obvious advantages of unlimited space for comprehensive scientific content and a nimble framework for future updates, publishing on Birds of the World brings each species to life with:

Female South African Shelduck © Birds of the World (illustrated by Francesc Jutglar
Female South African Shelduck © Birds of the World (illustrated by Francesc Jutglar)

Free access in southern Africa!

As part of this effort, free, unlimited access to Birds of the World is available to anyone in southern Africa including: Eswatini, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. We hope you’ll share this news with everyone you know!

Just create an account at and sign in to gain access. 

Spot the Roberts 8 content:

Newly updated species content can be found wherever you see the Roberts 8 logo (on left-hand side of any species account, under the navigation).

Watch this space for new ornithology content from all over the world, and this space for species accounts specifically from Southern Africa.

Other soon-to-be-released species accounts include:

  • Southern Brown-throated Weaver
  • Cape Weaver
  • Gurney’s Sugarbird
  • Yellow-tufted Pipit
  • African Finfoot
  • Temminck’s Courser